The mountain in winter is just not my scene. A bad experience a few years ago has been something I have struggled to get over.
So this day, a blue sky day, dry roads, little to no snow, seemed like the perfect reason to overcome my fear, ride the Movenpick chairlift and see what all the fuss was about.
The school holiday period is a really bad time for the mountain to have no snow. However, the perception that Ohakune is a one trick pony couldn't be more wrong.
There is so much to do here on a day with no snow. The mountain bike tracks can be tackled by any level of rider – even by children. There are enough walks in the area for even the most unfit of people to enjoy. And no snow, doesn’t mean poor weather. It can be quite the opposite in fact, like this particular day.
The Engineer pandered to my anxiety and drove oh so slowly up the mountain road. The mountain road meanders through native forest and then once above the tree line, it looks like you would imagine the planet Mars to look like. Bare volcanic rock – normally covered in snow at this time of year. We parked just a short way from the main steps, overlooking the beginner slopes. Even on this day with no snow, they were filled with families enjoying a day out with limited facilities available. Snow guns were pumping at full bore, and shrieking and laughter filled the air.
The cool guys were all there too. You know the ones.
Even with no snow.
We bought our tickets for the chairlift and walked over the ice to the carousel and were ushered on to the lift and off we went.
The Movenpick chairlift has a vertical rise of 290m and takes about 10 minutes in each direction. There is nothing for sightsee-ers to do upon reaching the top. Just get off and get on again.
But the view during the ride is worth every minute and every penny. An outstanding, unforgettable view out across the countryside. Mt Taranaki in the distance with its snow capped peak. The valleys underneath would normally be littered with people skiing but on this perfect day, without a breath of wind, the air whisper quiet, was just that. Perfect. Even with no snow.
So don’t listen to that forecast. Come any way!
Since our sightseeing day last week, the mountain has had a generous dumping of 80 centimetres of snow with another 50 centimetres due in the next 24 hours.